By Art Marquez – Thor Safety
I am often asked, “Where can I go to find out about how my company can be safe?” Or, “How do I know if my company is compliant with OSHA and Cal/OSHA?” I also get, “We don’t need safety training because we don’t have that many worker injuries.”
Actually, even one worker injury is too many. The National Safety Council considers safety as a journey:
“While safety requirements may vary across industries, high-performing organizations all have something in common. They are all on a journey, a cycle of improvement that aims for a continual reduction of risk with a goal of zero incidents. This is what the National Safety Council calls the Journey to Safety Excellence®. We call it a Journey because even organizations that have attained close to zero injuries must continue the process of improvement and reduction of risk.”
– Excerpt from NSC’s A Guide on the Journey to Safety Excellence
There are many sources available to help your company with your safety journey. The main one that sets the regulations for companies in America is Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Since April 1971, OSHA’s mission is to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.
There are four groups of OSHA Standards:
- General Industry *
*General Industry is the set that applies to the largest number of workers and worksites.
Creating a safe and healthy work environment requires every company, large and small, and every worker to make safety and health a top priority. Everyone in the organization, from the President and CEO to the newest hire, must understand and embrace worker safety and health as keys to the profitability of the American company.
Safety is a good business. An effective safety and health program can save $4 to $6 for every $1 invested. It is the right thing to do, and doing it right pays off in lower costs, increased productivity, and higher employee morale.
Companies have a duty and moral obligation to protect their workers from injury and illness on the job. Keeping workers safe also makes good business sense. Accident and injury costs can add up quickly. However, substantial savings in worker’s compensation and lost workdays are possible when injuries and illnesses decrease.
OSHA can help you. OSHA’s website offers a host of topics and links by using their search function at www.osha.gov/.
One area to focus on early in your company’s safety journey is to identify workplace hazards by conducting safety and health audits. One way to help understand a given situation is to look at it on a periodic basis. A survey conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the late 1990s revealed that self-audits are performed for a number of reasons, with the three most common being:
- Careful inspections can reduce injury and illness rates within the workplace by identifying present hazards.
- Staying on top of potential hazards is considered the right thing to do by many employers.
- Performing self-audits and acting upon any findings helps sustain compliance with OSHA regulations.
Conducting routine self-audits are a cost effective way of not only identifying safety hazards that need to be fixed, but also help in being compliant with OSHA regulations. Direct costs associated with safety and health hazards, beyond potential fines, can be reduced if hazards are corrected. Consider how many man-hours lost through workers compensation and sick leave could be reduced if productivity remains high. Some insurance carriers offer reduced premiums to companies who conduct self-audits.
Checklists are the best way to conduct effective and accurate self-audits for each work area. While there is no specific standard checklist format, several key items should be included:
- Name of auditor and date inspected
- Description and specific regulatory citation for all pertinent regulations with a space to note deficiencies
- A feasible completion date for deficiencies found
- Initials and/or date when all corrections have been completed
Developing and maintaining a checklist for each work area is by no means the final step. When beginning a safety audit program, several ideas should be kept in mind. A team approach to safety is most effective; rotating people on and off the team will keep ideas fresh and enhance perspective. Inspect thoroughly and frequently; any area, regardless of size, can pose hazards that can crop up seemingly overnight. Once hazards are identified, have a system in place for correction.
In addition to identifying workplace hazards and correcting them, create an effective safety training program to ensure that workers are aware of potential hazards and how to perform the specific task or job assignment. Be diligent and have open communication when training employees to perform certain tasks. Be sure to check, double check and triple check their understanding of the training instructions and have a competent supervisor or lead person watch the employee perform the tasks. Give proper feedback and note any areas for additional training or re-training as needed.
Remember, workplace safety is not just a one-time thing; it is an everyday thing. As the National Safety Council states, it is a safety journey. Commit yourself, your company and all company employees to become educated on the world of safety. It could save your life and/or the life of a fellow worker.
Art Marquez is the owner of Thor Safety, which provides custom safety training and equipment to manufacturing, construction and general industry.
Check the Chaffey Workforce Training Calendar for training dates, or contact your Business Liaison, Melissa Milton at (714) 393-5011 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on scheduling a customized training schedule for your organization.